08 Jan Could Opioids Account for the Rise of Pancreatic Cancer?
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Faraz Bishehsari, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine and Graduate College
Director of the Translational Gastroenterology Unit
Division of Digestive Diseases
Rush University Medical Center
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: This study builds on recent population based studies where opium use was found to be possible risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Although opium use is not a common recreational habit in the United States, opioid use has been rising remarkably over the past decade. In fact, opioid misuse and overdose have evolved into a public health crisis here with increasing opioid prescription use and abuse over the past decade.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We looked at the trend of pancreatic cancer over the last two decades nationally and at state level as well as the opioid death rates as a surrogate for prescription and illicit opioid over that period. We found that both pancreatic cancer and opioid death rates rose over time at the national and state levels.
After correcting for lifestyle and behavioral factors that could contribute to the risk of pancreatic cancer, we found, state’s opioid death rates at a given time significantly predicted the change in the incidence of pancreatic cancer years after.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The data suggests a link between opioid consumption and the risk of pancreatic cancer. In addition to the relevance of these findings to the general public, the impact of opioids on pancreas cancer could be directly relevant to these patients, as opioids are widely used for pain management in patients with pancreas inflammation or pancreatic cancer. In fact, recent studies in patients with advanced cancers (including pancreatic cancer), revealed that that those treated frequently with an opioid antagonist that works against opioids effects had significantly improved overall survival compared to placebo.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: To directly establish the role of opioids as a novel risk factor for pancreatic cancer, we need to conduct large population-based studies where long-term outcomes in opioid users are reliably registered. Once our findings are confirmed by the individual-level data on opioid consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer, these could have direct clinical relevance by considering non-narcotic (alternative) pain control approaches in patients with pancreatic cancer.
Future studies could shed light on mechanisms that link opioid use to the development and/or progression of pancreatic cancer.
My research support is stated in the paper.
Opioid use as a potential risk factor for pancreatic cancer in the United States: An analysis of state and national level databases
Usman Barlass ,Ameya Deshmukh ,Todd Beck, Faraz Bishehsari
PLOS ONE Published: January 6, 2021
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